Advertisement

Questions surround B.C.’s decision to extend the gap between COVID-19 vaccine doses

Click to play video: 'Decision to increase gap between vaccine shots questioned' Decision to increase gap between vaccine shots questioned
WATCH: Canada's top doctor says the science behind B.C's decision to extend the gap between vaccine doses from 21 days to four months looks promising. But as the national advisory committee on immunization reviews the data, the country's chief scientist is calling it a human experiment. Andrea MacPherson reports. – Mar 2, 2021

Canada’s top doctor says the science behind B.C.’s decision to extend the gap between COVID-19 vaccine doses from 21 days to four months could be promising.

However, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization is still reviewing the data around the delay.

Click to play video: 'Canada’s chief science advisor questions B.C. decision to extend COVID-19 vaccine doses' Canada’s chief science advisor questions B.C. decision to extend COVID-19 vaccine doses
Canada’s chief science advisor questions B.C. decision to extend COVID-19 vaccine doses – Mar 2, 2021

On Monday, B.C. provincial health officials decided to spread the doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines to 16 weeks.

Story continues below advertisement

Read more: B.C. says all eligible adults should get first dose of COVID-19 vaccine by end of July

Originally, the doses to combat COVID-19 were spread out by 28 days. That was then pushed to 42 days and now it is 112 days.

The goal is to get more people vaccinated with the first dose before people are fully vaccinated with both doses.

Click to play video: 'B.C. health officials decide to delay second COVID-19 vaccine dose' B.C. health officials decide to delay second COVID-19 vaccine dose
B.C. health officials decide to delay second COVID-19 vaccine dose – Mar 1, 2021

“There will be a continuous monitoring of the vaccine effectiveness as we go along,” Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer said Tuesday. “Not just globally but British Columbia and Quebec, for instance, (they) have already stretched the interval of the administration between the two doses, giving us domestic real-life data from long-term care and from health-care workers.”

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Stability of future AstraZeneca vaccine supply coming from Ottawa' Coronavirus: Stability of future AstraZeneca vaccine supply coming from Ottawa
Coronavirus: Stability of future AstraZeneca vaccine supply coming from Ottawa – Mar 2, 2021

However, Dr. Mona Nemer, Canada’s Chief Science Advisor, said not all viruses act the same way and therefore, not all vaccines act the same way.

Story continues below advertisement

“I’ve said it before, this is the first time that we have RNA vaccines. We don’t know how our bodies respond to them. We don’t know how strong immunity is and how long it lasts.”

“So I think we need to maintain some humility in the face of this evolving science and to maintain public trust, that we be open and transparent about the data that is being used for decision-making,” Nemer added.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunizations is looking at the evidence to support the time span between the doses and is expected to release its findings later this week.

B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer said Tuesday that efficacy studies of the vaccine have shown that receiving a first dose of the vaccine is over 90 per cent effective for at least a few months.

“That is why I am so confident that the decision we made, over this weekend, to extend that interval is the best one based on all of the science and the data that we have to maximize the benefit to everybody in our community here in B.C.,” Henry said.

Click to play video: 'Officials aim to administer first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all British Columbians by July' Officials aim to administer first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all British Columbians by July
Officials aim to administer first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all British Columbians by July – Mar 1, 2021

She added the more people who have received one dose of the vaccine lowers the risk of passing the virus on to others.

Story continues below advertisement

Henry said the hope is that some of the restrictions can be lifted once enough people have received the first dose.

B.C. is expecting all adults in the province will have the option to receive their first dose before the end of July.

Pfizer, one of the vaccine manufacturers, has recommended a 21-day gap between doses and the province previously was spacing them out by 42 days.

“The extension of dose two will make a big difference in our ability to vaccinate our mass population,” Dr. Penny Ballem, who is leading the province’s vaccination plan, said Monday.

Sponsored content